In Chronicle Essay, Hollins Dean Asserts Teacher-Scholars’ Crucial Role

In his commentary published August 7 in The Chronicle of Higher Education, “How Teacher-Scholars Prepare Students for an Evolving World,” Associate Professor of Philosophy and Dean of Academic Services Michael Gettings argues, “As faculty, our research informs our teaching and benefits our students. One is not a teacher and a scholar, one is a teacher-scholar. Through scholarship, teachers model good learning and offer special opportunities for students. The benefits of this model for both teacher and student are maximized in the liberal-arts setting where students can build strong relationships with faculty.”

Gettings goes on to state that teacher-scholars help students develop the skills identified by developmental psychologists Roberta Michnick Golinkoff and Kathryn Hirsh-Pasek as essential for the workplace of the future (“the six C’s”): collaboration, communication, content, critical thinking, creativity, and confidence.


Hollins, Va. Tech Partner to Grow Student Research Opportunities

Hollins University and the Global Change Center at Virginia Tech have signed a memorandum of understanding to offer undergraduate students at Hollins summer research experience in Virginia Tech labs.

Hollins students will participate in a research project as part of the Fralin Life Science Institute’s ten-week Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF) Program. Qualified students receive housing and a stipend from Hollins, and Virginia Tech is providing research resources and infrastructure, including lab space, equipment, and supplies.

“Working with Virginia Tech in this way allows for extraordinary research and mentoring opportunities for our students in a broad range of interdisciplinary fields,” said Trish Hammer, vice president for academic affairs at Hollins

William Hopkins, a professor of fish and wildlife conservation in the College of Natural Resources and Environment and director of the Global Change Center, stressed the uniqueness of the partnership. “It has the dual goals of providing undergraduate research opportunities while simultaneously recruiting these same undergraduates to Virginia Tech for graduate school. One of the most important factors leading to a student’s success in graduate school is an effective mentor-mentee relationship. This partnership allows both the mentee and mentor to assess whether they are a good match before fully committing to a longer-term professional endeavor.”

Among the key components of the partnership, Hollins and Virginia Tech are:

  • Collaborating on recognizing possible pairings between Virginia Tech mentors and Hollins undergraduates according to the students’ research interests.
  • Overseeing these associations and research initiatives.
  • Offering graduate school recruitment support as promising relationships are identified.

“We expect the partnership will grow in the coming years and certainly strengthen both the undergraduate programs at Hollins and the graduate programs at Virginia Tech,” said Hammer.

Shannen Kelly ’19, who is a double major in environmental science and Spanish, and biology major Elaine Metz ’19 are the first two Hollins students taking part in the program this summer. Read about their research experiences here.

 

Photo:  From left – Keri Swaby, coordinator, Virginia Tech Office of Undergraduate Research; Janet Webster, associate director, Fralin Life Science Institute; Nancy Gray, recently retired president, Hollins University; William Hopkins, professor and director, Global Change Center at Virginia Tech; Trish Hammer, vice president for academic affairs, Hollins University; and John McDowell, professor and associate scientific director, Fralin Life Science Institute.

 


Growing Hollins’ Interfaith Community Leads Grad to Harvard Divinity School

Since her arrival at Hollins four years ago, Nora Williams ’17 has taken an array of life-changing journeys that have included internships at Elon University and the Rescue Mission of Roanoke and a semester studying abroad in Argentina.

But Williams’ spiritual quest as a Hollins student is perhaps her most enduring voyage, one that this fall will take her to Harvard Divinity School and its master of divinity program.

A double-major in religious studies and Spanish from Denver, Colorado, Williams helped teach an adult art class at the Rescue Mission, a Christian crisis intervention center for men, women, and children, during the January Short Term of her first year. She says the experience “led me to explore ways to be more inclusive when ministering to the needs of others.”

Her interest in interfaith issues was further piqued during the summer of her sophomore year. She spent a month working at Elon University’s Truitt Center for Religious and Spiritual Life under the tutelage of the Rev. Dr. Jan Fuller, Elon’s university chaplain and former chaplain at Hollins. Williams says she “learned a lot about interfaith, connecting with different resources, working with different communities, and incorporating different religious voices.”

Williams produced two projects at Elon. First, “I created this document of religious monologues. I interviewed at lot of Elon students over the summer and had them talk about their religious experiences, how they have developed in their spirituality, their interactions with other people at the school, and how those interactions affect how they practice their faith.”

Williams brought the concept behind her second project back to Hollins that fall. “I researched and found 54 religious holidays from around the world and created short blurbs about each one, which I printed out and either placed them on tables or hung them up in various public spaces.” She noticed that many religious traditions occurred during the months of November and December, and that inspired her once she returned to Hollins to work with University Chaplain Jenny Call to present the first-ever Winter Light Gathering on campus.

The event was nondenominational and Williams invited people of different faiths “to share their favorite traditions during that time of year. From Hanukkah to Winter Solstice, they all center around this theme of light.”

Call believes Williams is herself “a brilliant light on our campus, although she never seeks the spotlight and instead shies away from attention.  She has a generous heart and spirit, and a deep passion for social justice that motivates her work and care for others.  She delights me with her thoughtfulness and sense of humor and inspires hope about what she and her generation will accomplish.”

Adds Professor of Spanish Alison Ridley, “She is a lovely and kind human being who deserves to be recognized for all the good she does in such a quiet and unassuming way.”

At Hollins’ 175th Commencement Exercises on May 21, Williams was presented with the Algernon Sydney Sullivan Student Award. Given by the New York Southern Society in memory of the founder, this award recognizes the senior who has shown by daily living those qualities that display love and helpfulness to other men and women.

Williams will complete her master of divinity in three years. The program includes a semester or a year of field work in the ministry – real-world experience for which Williams feels she has already set the foundation at Hollins. She worked with new students from underrepresented groups as an Early Transition Program mentor, and served with the Diversity Monologue Troupe, a team of student leaders that promotes understanding of the university’s diversity while helping to broaden perspectives on the various stereotypes common in society.

“I feel like that’s also a form of ministry,” Williams explains. “I’m figuring out what the idea of ministry means to me.”


Gender & Women’s Studies Major Heads to Brandeis for Graduate Study

A Hollins senior will pursue a Master’s degree this fall at one of the country’s 35 best national universities.

Monica Doebel ’17 is entering the graduate program in Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies (WGS) at Brandeis University in Waltham, Massachusetts. Brandeis is ranked number 34 among national universities by U.S. News and World Report.

A double-major in gender and women’s studies (GWS) and English who is graduating from Hollins in three years, Doebel chose Brandeis over the Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies program at the University of Cincinnati, where she had also been accepted.

“It was a tough call between Brandeis and Cincinnati,” she explained. But Brandeis’ strength of faculty, and the opportunity to take classes at other outstanding New England colleges and universities as part of a graduate consortium that includes Boston College, Boston University, Harvard University, Northeastern University, Simmons College, and Tufts University, were deciding factors, as was the constant communication from Brandeis WGS students. “They told me how Brandeis effectively primes people for entering into professional careers or continuing on to get a Ph.D.”

Feedback from current students also played a significant role in helping Doebel choose Hollins for her undergraduate education. She was originally attracted to Hollins because of the creative writing program, “but it was after taking a gender and women’s studies class my first semester that I really considered GWS, a subject I was definitely interested in before coming here, as something I wanted to pursue beyond just taking a couple of elective courses,” she recalled.

One of the strengths of GWS at Hollins, Doebel said, is how it combines academics and self-refection. “The department has given me not just a theoretical backing in the subject, but it has also encouraged personal exploration,” an approach that she said effectively incorporates her interest in creative writing.

Doebel credited Professors Susan Thomas (her advisor) and LeeRay Costa for “influencing the path my academic career has taken. I didn’t envision going to graduate school when I first came to Hollins, but they’ve empowered me and made me feel it’s something I could be successful doing. I feel like I’ve grown a lot and the department has given me a lot, and I’m thankful to both of them.”

While she completes her M.A. at Brandeis, Doebel said her future plans include the possibility of getting a Ph.D., but will remain a work in progress. “Past Hollins GWS graduates have gone on to professional tracks, corporate tracks, or continued on in graduate education. I really feel like my options are open, which is nice.”


Student Lands Fellowship at World-Renowned Marine Research Organization

A Hollins junior will be spending her summer with a global leader in ocean research, exploration, and education.

Lan Nguyen ’18 is one of approximately 20 to 30 college and university students from around the world who have been awarded a 12-week summer research fellowship at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) in Massachusetts.

“I applied to about 10 different summer fellowships and internships and this is the one that best matches my interests,” said Nguyen, who hails from Vietnam and is double majoring in environmental science and economics.

Nguyen will be assigned to WHOI’s Marine Policy Center, which performs social scientific research that combines economics, policy analysis, and law with the institution’s basic exploration of ocean sciences.

“I’ll be working with a researcher to identify the benefits of marine resources and address marine issues in Massachusetts and other coastal areas,” she explained. “I’ll learn about methodology in environmental economics research, which is what I want to do in the future. It will be really helpful to me to get that experience and connect to researchers in the field.” After graduating from Hollins, Nguyen plans to pursue a doctorate in environmental economics and added that the fellowship provides “an amazing opportunity” to build up her Ph.D. program applications.

When she enrolled at Hollins, Nguyen was already thinking about combining environmental science and economics. She was referred to Associate Professor of Economics Pablo Hernandez, who specializes in environmental economics and has served as her academic advisor since her first year. “He helped me to find projects that would allow me to identify my research interests. He also offered suggestions on Short Term and summer opportunities and how to best prepare my applications to internships and fellowships. I wouldn’t have had access to that level of advice at a big university where professors have a lot of advisees and don’t have the extra time to spend with students the way Professor Hernandez and others at Hollins do.”

Nguyen also credits Professor of Biology Renee Godard and Associate Professor of Mathematics Julie Clark for bolstering her research skills in environmental science and statistics, respectively. “Incredible” is the word she uses to describe the three faculty members who have actively supported her.

This will be the second consecutive year in which Nguyen has participated in a prestigious summer program. In 2016, she completed an eight-week residence internship at the American Institute for Economic Research. In addition, during the fall of 2015, she worked with the School for Field Studies’ Center for Mekong Studies in Cambodia and subsequently received the organization’s Distinguished Student Researcher Award.

“Hollins students are able to get research experience even during their first and sophomore years,” Nguyen said. “That really helps us to secure other opportunities such as Woods Hole.”

 

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Hollins Sophomore Earns Second Study Trip to Persian Gulf Region

The National Council on U.S. – Arab Relations (NCUSAR) has awarded Hanna Strauss ’19 a fellowship to participate in a week-long study trip to Qatar, one of the seven Arab states that border the Persian Gulf.

Strauss’ visit to Qatar is scheduled for April 21 – 28. She will immerse herself in the country’s culture, society, and economics, and learn more about government priorities, concerns, and needs as they pertain to U.S. – Qatari relations and Qatar’s role in regional and world affairs.

This is Strauss’ second study abroad experience in the Persian Gulf region in as many years. Last summer, she spent an intensive eight-week period in Oman studying Arabic at the Center for International Learning in Muscat, the country’s capital.

“I’m excited to discover the distinctions in Arabic dialect between Oman and Qatar,” Strauss said. “I’m also ready to learn about Doha, the capital of Qatar, and the differences it has with Muscat.”

In Qatar, Strauss will be part of a delegation accompanied by two NCUSAR escorts and various Qatari officials. She will be introduced to a broad range of government and business representatives, academics, policymakers, specialists, and student peers, as well as traditional and modern Qatari culture and life.

Strauss is actively involved in NCUSAR’s Model Arab League conferences, especially the Appalachian Model Arab League conference held annually at Hollins. Most recently, she and Hayley Harrington ’19 won the Outstanding Delegation Award representing Palestine at the Southeast Regional Model Arab League conference, held March 10 – 12 at Converse College in South Carolina.

“Next year, as part of this fellowship, I’ll be working to bring events and outreach opportunities to Hollins,” Strauss said. “I will be implementing most of my efforts through Model UN and the Model Arab League Club, which will be started this semester.”

 

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Students Win Major Awards at Model Arab League Conference

Hollins University students earned a number of honors at the Southeast Regional Model Arab League (SERMAL), held March 10-12 at Converse College in Spartanburg, South Carolina.

The Hollins student team represented Palestine at the conference, which is the National Council on U.S.-Arab Relations’ flagship student leadership development program. The Model Arab League website states, “There is no comparable opportunity that allows emerging leaders to learn firsthand what it is like to put themselves in the shoes of real-life Arab diplomats and other foreign affairs practitioners. Model Arab League helps prepare students to be knowledgeable, well-trained, and effective citizens as well as civic and public affairs activists. The skill sets acquired and practiced in the course of the Models are designed to serve the participants well regardless of the career or profession they elect to pursue.”

Hanna Strauss ’19 and Hayley Harrington ’19 won the Outstanding Delegation Award for their work on the Palestinian Affairs Council. Reilly Swennes ’20 and Clara Souvignier ’20 were awarded Outstanding Delegation for their work on the Council of Arab Heads of State, while Emmalee Funk ’20 and Dade Hundertmark ’19 won the Distinguished Delegation Award for representing Palestine on the Political Affairs Council.

Professor of Political Science Ed Lynch, who serves as faculty advisor to the Model Arab League students, said Hollins is rightly proud of the students’ accomplishments. “These awards are based on the opinion of judges who observe the proceedings, along with the votes of students in the Councils. To win, delegates have to impress experienced Model Arab League experts as well as their own peers.”

Lynch added, “Hollins students at this year’s SERMAL have continued a long tradition of awards for our university in both Model Arab League and Model United Nations.” He noted that this year’s awards will be placed in Room 304 in Pleasants Hall alongside earlier honors won by Hollins.

Hollins Model Arab League students will next participate in the National Model Arab League in Washington, D.C., at the end of March. This is the first time that Hollins has earned a spot in the national conference, which is limited to 25 colleges nationwide.

SERMAL included 20 delegations from high schools and colleges in the region. Hollins will host the Appalachian Regional Model Arab League, November 10-12, 2017.

 

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Hollins Junior Selected for Prestigious Fellowship in Brain Research

This summer, Gabrielle Lewis ’18 will move one step closer to realizing her dream of becoming a physician.

The Roanoke resident has been selected to receive a neuroSURF Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship by the Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute (VTCRI) in Roanoke. The ten-week program runs from May 22 – July 28 and provides hands-on research experiences in one of VTCRI’s state-of-the-art neurobiology labs. At the end of the program, she and other fellows will deliver presentations based on their investigative work at the annual Virginia Tech Summer Research Symposium.

“The applicant pool for these fellow positions was extremely qualified and deep,” said Michael Fox, director of the VTCRI neuroSURF program.

Lewis is on the pre-med track at Hollins, double-majoring in biology and biochemistry. After graduating from Virginia Western Community College with an associate’s degree, she chose Hollins over an esteemed but much larger state university to complete her undergraduate education. “I went to a small high school and didn’t know if I wanted a small college,” she explained. “But after experiencing large classes in community college I realized that I liked the small classroom and the connection I would get with professors.”

Another deciding factor for Lewis in selecting Hollins was the university’s Batten Leadership Institute. “I learned about it during my tours here and I loved it. It was really important to me that I pursue Batten because I want to be a physician and that requires having strong leadership skills.”

As someone “more introverted than extroverted,” Lewis said she went into the program knowing that she wanted to change things about herself. She understood that she needed to build her self-confidence “and my relationship with my own authority so that I could speak up and feel validated in what I was saying. Batten has changed my entire perspective of my leadership role. I always thought that being a leader meant being in front of the group and loud. Abrina [Schnurman-Crook, executive director of the Batten Leadership Institute] has helped show me that sometimes it’s the person in the back pushing people forward that’s the strongest leader.”

Along with exploring team dynamics and organizational culture, Lewis said, “I’ve learned that leadership is really about the connection you make with people and how you can unite them in working towards a common goal. And Batten has provided me with a lot of opportunities and insights that a lot of people have to spend years and years in a profession to get.”

During her neuroSURF fellowship, Lewis will be doing translational neurobiology research (“why and how the brain works the way it does”) with a possible focus on glioblastoma (a malignant, aggressive tumor that affects the brain or spine) or brain cancer. She said she is going to go into medicine with an open mind, “but my heart lies with pediatric oncology.” After graduation next year she hopes to attend an M.D./Ph.D. program at either Georgetown, Ohio State, the University of Virginia, or Wake Forest.

In the meantime, Lewis is busy keeping up with a rigorous schedule, both academically and away from campus. She maintains a 3.95 GPA and still finds time to work as the youth sports coordinator at the Roanoke YMCA and serve as an EMT with a local rescue squad. She’s also preparing to take her Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) this summer.

“I’ve always been very organized and had good time management skills,” she explained, “and Batten has definitely helped me to prioritize things in my life.”

 

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Hollins Students Earn Accolades at Model Arab League

A team of Hollins University students was named Distinguished Delegation at the Appalachia Regional Model Arab League (ARMAL), held November 4 – 6 on the Hollins campus.

Hollins represented Saudi Arabia at the conference.

Model Arab League (MAL) is the flagship student leadership development program of the National Council on U.S. – Arab Relations (NCUSAR). Similar in organization and format to Model United Nations, MAL focuses on the 22 member states that make up the League of Arab States.

According to NCUSAR, “MAL provides primarily American but also Arab and other international students opportunities to develop invaluable leadership skills. There is no comparable opportunity that allows emerging leaders to learn firsthand what it is like to put themselves in the shoes of real-life Arab diplomats and other foreign affairs practitioners.”

Seventeen delegations from 11 schools, including seven colleges and universities, three high schools, and one middle school, participated in ARMAL. The turnout represented an increase of five delegations from last year’s conference.

“This is the second year Hollins has hosted this conference, and it was so successful that we have been invited to the National University Model Arab League conference, which takes place in Washington, D.C., this March,” said Professor of Political Science Ed Lynch, ARMAL coordinator. “Only 26 colleges and universities nationwide are included.”

Dade Hundertmark ’19 received the Outstanding Delegate Award for her service on the Council of Arab Social Affairs Ministers. Aubrey Hobby ’18 was named Distinguished Chair for her leadership of that council.

Recognized as Distinguished Delegates were Samantha Makseyn ’19 and Reilly Swennes ’20, who participated in the Council on Palestinian Affairs, and Shannon Gallagher ’20, who served on the Council of Arab Environmental Affairs Ministers.

Hanna Strauss ’19 was the ARMAL secretary-general and Hayley Harrington ’19 served as assistant secretary-general.

Samuel Tadros, senior fellow at Washington’s Hudson Institute, was the keynote speaker. His address focused on the status of Christians in the Arabic-speaking world.

Among the colleges and universities joining Hollins this year were Converse College, Georgia Southern University, Radford University, Roanoke College, and Virginia Tech. The participating high schools were Chatham Hall, Franklin County High School, and Roanoke Catholic High School. Roanoke’s Community School Middle School sent an observer delegation, the first time a middle school has taken part in a Model Arab League conference.


Hollins Students Join Former Ambassador at Foreign Policy Dialogue

Students from Hollins University, George Mason University, and the University of Virginia took part in a candid conversation with the former U.S. ambassador to Oman at a panel discussion on U.S. policy in the Arabian Gulf Region. The event was held at UVa on September 14.

The panel’s featured speaker was Ambassador Richard J. Schmierer, who served as U.S. envoy to Oman from 2009 to 2012.

Three undergraduate students, one each from Hollins, George Mason, and UVa, joined Schmierer on the panel. Hollins was represented by Ashraqat Sayed Ahmed ’17, who is double-majoring in economics and international studies. Her paper focused on Oman’s economic prospects.

“I was certainly very impressed by the student presenters at the event,” Schmierer said. “It is nice to see that we have some great young talent entering the international relations field.”

Sayed Ahmed noted, “I was excited to participate in a panel with Ambassador Schmierer because it gave me the opportunity to debate and converse about a country and a topic that have always intrigued me. My time at the panel exceeded my expectations. It was an honor to be surrounded by people who are so knowledgeable and passionate.”

Most of the Hollins students who attended the event are first-year students enrolled in Professor of Political Science Ed Lynch‘s seminar, “How to be a President.” Lynch coordinated the event with Sonja Taylor, a professor in George Mason’s global affairs program, and members of UVa’s international relations club.

Lynch said he hopes the event’s success will lead to more joint efforts involving Hollins and other colleges and universities in Virginia.